2019 Americas Cultural Summit:
Bringing to Life a Shared Vision
2019 Americas Cultural Summit
Buenos Aires, Argentina
27 June 2019
I’m thrilled to be here with you today, at my first international event as the Chair of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA). It’s wonderful to be back in Buenos Aires, in the southern part of the Americas. I have many close colleagues in this part of the world—and I look forward to forging many new relationships here at the Summit.
As many of you know, I’ve been the Director and CEO of the Canada Council since 2014—and my mandate was recently renewed for another four years. This is exciting news for me because it means I’ll have the opportunity to work with my teams to further the vision set in place for the Council almost five years ago.
This vision centres on the belief that the Canada Council for the Arts has an increasingly important role to play in society: I believe we have a duty to foster the principles of freedom of expression for all, equality, equity, and inclusion. I know the Canada Council is not alone in this mission, and that many of you—and arts councils and culture agencies around the world—are undertaking similar work.
And ultimately, it will be artists who carry out this vision. We need to seek out, invite, support, and give great voice to a breadth of artists—artists who speak to, and represent, the diversity of our society.
That means reaching artists who have been on the margins for too long, as well as artists from the up-and-coming generation. This will advance the aesthetic, social, and maybe even economic possibilities of the arts sector and, ultimately, advance citizenship and democracy.
What is needed to achieve this broadening of public support to the arts is leadership:
- leadership that is bold, courageous, and visionary;
- leadership that is prepared to do things differently than they’ve been done in the past;
- and leadership that is shared—across nations.
As Director and CEO of the Canada Council, I have found the IFACCA network invaluable for the potential of this type of leadership. It’s a network for support and inspiration; a network to confront shared challenges; and a network to forge alliances, build alignment, and instigate change and progress towards an even greater role for the arts and culture in shaping the future.
A year ago we hosted the first Americas Cultural Summit in Ottawa in partnership with Argentina’s Ministry of Culture and IFACCA. At the summit, we built consensus around some of the great challenges all of us must confront; we shared the difficulties we encounter within our respective communities and institutions; and we issued a collective call to action that emphasizes the need for innovation and reinvention to unleash the power of artistic creation.
At this meeting, as the focal point for the Americas network shifts to Argentina, I’d urge us to make sure the conversations we began with one another in Ottawa now evolve.
For one, there are many new voices joining us at this Summit—and these voices will deepen the vision for what we want to achieve together. At the same time, we also need to articulate how we want to achieve our vision. In other words, we need to create actionable ideas.
And so, I encourage you to ask yourself this question throughout the summit: How can we turn our discussion into something actionable? I am confident this question will guide us in the direction we need to go, and that together we can achieve great things.
Thank you very much, and I look forward to working with all of you.